WASHINGTON, May 3, 2017 – The Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) kicked off its two-day public meeting at the Department of Health and Human Services today with presentations focusing on new ways to tackle this growing human and animal health challenge.
“The emergence of antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious issues facing our public and animal health systems,” noted Elanco Animal Health President Jeff Simmons in a speech highlighting the steps his company and others have taken to address this issue.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria or other microbes continue to survive after being exposed to an antimicrobial drug, according to the Food and Drug Administration. “Once bacteria become resistant to a particular drug, the continued use of that drug may increase the number of resistant bacteria. Therefore, all uses of antimicrobial drugs, including use in people and animals, can add to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.”
Simmons said the entire animal health industry has made a lot of progress addressing this issue and has supported modifications to product labels that led to two major changes in the United States:
- Narrowing uses of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals to only fight disease; and
- Ensuring these products are only used under the oversight of a veterinarian.
And, as of Jan. 1, a total of 292 product labels from 26 companies were either changed or withdrawn. As a result, medically-important antibiotics in animal feed and water are only used to fight disease, and under the direction of a veterinarian, Simmons said.
But more work is needed, he said, calling for three key improvements, including a focus on what he described as the “right metrics” for measuring progress.
“The goal is to reduce antibiotic resistant infections in people by ensuring responsible antibiotic use in all settings. Yet the main measure we’re tracking today is volume of use,” Simmons pointed out.
“Measuring antibiotic use volume does not consider overall fluctuations in animal numbers, prescribing behaviors, disease pressure, feed quality, weather, and the health of the animals. With 60 percent more animal protein needed in the next few decades, animal numbers will certainly climb. In poultry alone analysis indicates we’ll need at least 40 billion more birds globally to meet demand by 2050.”
Simmons argued that the industry would be better served by focusing on prescribing behavior and eliminating inappropriate prescriptions of medically important antibiotics in animals – just as the CDC is focused on eliminating inappropriate prescriptions in hospitals and outpatient settings.
In addition, Simmons called for improvements in the regulatory timeline and pathways for approving new alternatives for animal antibiotics – similar to the pathways allowed for breakthrough technologies for human pharmaceuticals.
“In the past year, there were 15 new product submissions from the animal health industry and new study protocol submissions have been trending steadily upward over past few years,” Simmons said. “We must be able to bring novel therapeutics with unique modes of action to market in a timely manner.”
By contrast, he noted that human biopharmaceutical companies have several pathways for breakthrough technologies, expedited approvals, and similar abbreviations in the efficacy evaluation of a new medicine to bring new products to market in a safe, expedient way. In fact, the priority approval time for human pharma products has dropped by an average of 16 months due to reduced review and clinical development time.
“A parallel approach in animal health could speed the availability of these alternatives, reducing the use of medically important antibiotics in the future,” he said.
Simmons also called for a better understanding of food labels on meat and poultry products.
“Today, two-thirds of shoppers who buy meat and poultry labeled “Raised Without Antibiotics” believe they are helping to reduce on-farm use of the antibiotics needed by people, while 70 percent believe they are supporting better animal welfare,” he explained. “However, data tells a different story. By removing all medicines, more animals experience clinical illness.”
Simmons emphasized that, “Addressing these challenges is bigger than any one entity. It will require participants across the food chain and healthcare systems – farmers, veterinarians, doctors, NGOs, the public and private sectors – to work together. This is the only way we can solve a challenge of this size and urgency.”
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